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From Pastor’s Desk —by Pastor Hartmut The men’s shelter has not been particularly easy in the end of March. In total, the folks from Catholic Charities gave us five site visits in support of our volunteers. Add in other challenging developments, especially in the personal lives of some of our elderly church members – and you can see why I have an unusually strong yearning for spring this year. It was probably not a good idea that I finished the month by reading an article on Black Holes in National Geographic Magazine, as it seemed to emphasize the insignificance of our planet and all the pain and challenges occurring on its surface.

But think about it! This motto of the Reformation is much older than the 16th century. Its origin is Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.” And so I greet you with this verse as we pass through the remainder of Lent while waiting eagerly for the Sun of Easter to rise. With fond wishes, Pastor Hartmut

It is good in times like these to apply faith. To me, this came when, in the middle of an unpleasant men’s shelter situation, I suddenly remembered a motto from my childhood: VERBUM DEI MANET IN AETERNUM. “The Word of God endures forever.” I cannot tell you where I once read it as a child. Was it a banner, a painting or in a Sunday school book? Today, I know that it goes back to John the Steadfast and the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, when this powerful Elector of Saxony declared his support of the Lutheran Reformation in front of the general assembly of the Estates of the Holy Roman Empire. Only one year later Huldrych Zwingli, the leader of our Reformed branch of the Reformation, was killed in battle.

Inside this Issue Church Move Chili Cook-off Men’s Shelter Benevolence of the Month-Elly Kajaminyo A Friend’s Visit Ash Wednesday Service Spring Recital Series TCCDC Update Hall Fund Update Seder Meal Sign Up & Tenebrae Worship Music Notes LGBT Conversation Invite Rainbow Children’s Choir & CICLOVIA

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John the Steadfast by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1509

April 2014


Newsletter of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick

Church Move, Second Part –by Pastor Hartmut Our efforts of emptying the church building off its furniture are progressing steadily. We have been blessed by the selflessness of many students from Rutgers University. Without them, we would have to hire movers. Likewise, we have been able to store the church furniture in the education building, so that we did not have to pay for storage. In fact, these moving Saturdays turned out to provide great moments of fellowship – and not only during the breaks when it was time for pizza! On March 8, the students helping came mostly from Rutgers Protestant Campus Ministries: Taylor Barger, Victoria Field and David Stiger. Melissa MacCollum had joined them through the Rutgers Student Volunteer Council. Lolly Schenck and Julius Fekete shared in the supervision that day. On March 29, a few of us removed the sound system and wrapped the organ console in preparation of the coming construction. A great thank you goes to Phil Coakley, who supervised these efforts. One more Saturday devoted to emptying the church is still ahead of us: April 12. That day, we plan to remove light fixtures, ceiling tiles, doors, wall shelves and the pew cushions. Again, we have a team from the Student Volunteer Council of Rutgers University signed up for the event. However, additional hands from the congregation are always welcome. As of now, we plan to start at 11:00 AM. Since the time may still change, please call the office (732.545.1005) for confirmation.

April 2014


Newsletter of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick

A Hot Contest

Notes from the Interfaith Rotating Men’s Shelter

—by Pastor Hartmut

—by Lolly Schenck

Our annual Chili Cook-off on March 1 resulted in a larger crowd than ever. Our Invitation & Outreach Committee had done a great job preparing the affair. It was so hot that most people were happy about the extra amounts of ice cream served in the end.

It sounds so official and somewhat intimidating when it’s all spelled out like that, but really it’s just fifteen guys and some of us from FRC spending a week or two together. Seven nights, seven sets of volunteers to shepherd the men, some cots, some food and some fellowship and love.

All in all, we enjoyed an evening of fun and fellowship and a great variety of chilies. It is amazing how this simple dish can become a conveyor belt into experiencing other cultures and backgrounds. Josh Bernhofer’s friend Thakshila Upasena from Sri Lanka, for example, had contributed a very interesting chili. In addition to its great taste, it was vegetarian, too.

And it’s not all fun. Getting up and going off to work without a good sleep in your own bed is tough. Hauling the guys’ stuff in and out of our place and on to the next is hard heavy work. Trying to be fair to our hearts’ spirits, and at the same time maintain the integrity of the program and the rules is sometimes anguishing.

You can see this year’s winners in the attached picture. From left to right, they were: David Scibetta (1st place), Rick Vingara (2nd place), Marlana Moore and Nicola Mammes (3rd place).

But we do it because it’s there to be done and because of the fellowship and love. We open our doors to “strangers” and in

their faces we see our own reflected. And in them we see our Lord. And so we do it year after year with joy and some grumbling and kvetching and with love and some whining and sighing and with heart and some huffing and puffing. And we will do it again next January and next March. Thank you, thank you (in alphabetical order) Ben Berman, Josh Bernhofer, Thakshila Upasena, Gary & Lauren Bernhofer, Bruce Bothwell, John Coakley, Joan Fekete, Jim Hance, John Keller, Aaron Kennedy, Hartmut & Susan Kramer-Mills, Nicola Mammes, Marlana Moore, Raymond, Eugene Rapoport, and Janet & David Waanders. We couldn’t do it without you. See you next year. Happy Easter!

April 2014


Newsletter of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick

Benevolence of the Month — Elly Kajaminyo, serving in South Sudan From RCA website Full-scale conflict broke out in South Sudan on December 15 as long-standings tensions escalated between factions within the ruling party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. Since the conflict began, more than 10,000 people have been killed and 860,000 have been displaced. There has been a huge amount of looting, rape, and other unspeakably violent acts in major towns. South Sudan's limited number of hospitals and clinics are understaffed and overwhelmed with wounded people. Many families are homeless and hungry due to the lack of security and the inability to transport goods and resources. The United Nations estimates that 3.7 million people (roughly one-third of the population) are in acute need of food in South Sudan as a result of the current conflict. With the assistance of the international community, South Sudan's government and opposition forces signed a ceasefire agreement on January 23. In spite of the ceasefire "the killing of innocent citizens is still taking place in Malakal," says John Yor Nyiker, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. On February 1, he says, "we encountered people burying a man who was killed in his residence. This conflict started politically and in the military and now it has become ethnic hatred among the communities. Our people are in urgent need of support for shelter, clean water, food, and medical and emergency supplies in the churches and hospitals." The signing of the ceasefire agreement provides a small sign of hope that peace may return and more international humanitarian agencies may gain access to severely affected

April 2014


areas to assist the people. HOW YOU CAN HELP •Pray for peace, that the terms of the ceasefire will be fully implemented by government and anti-government forces and that the ethnic violence between tribal groups will cease. •Pray for reconciliation, that a national reconciliation process may be developed. •The RCA has provided $20,000 to assist with immediate needs for food, water, and shelter. Additional support is needed for more emergency supplies and to provide immediate trauma healing, peace-building, and reconciliation training for refugees, displaced people, and ethnic communities. Donate at

A Friend’s Visit –by Susan Kramer-Mills It was so great to see a familiar face again after such a long time – Erie Beemsterboer! Yes, all the way from the Netherlands she came, like Dina Van Bergh and many others once did. Alas, Erie was only just visiting, but she did actually play with the Bell Choir while she was here. Indeed, she jumped right in! Great to see you, Erie! We miss you and your dear family.

Newsletter of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick

Collegiate and Reformed —by Pastor Hartmut It would be a little outdated to display pictures of last month’s Ash Wednesday service here – were it not for the fact that they bear witness of the collegiate work of Reformed congregations in New Brunswick and surrounding areas. As every year, we continued the serious liturgy of Ash Wednesday with a rather fun “Feast of Sausages”. This commemorates the protest of our ancestors in the faith in Switzerland, who used a feast like this to provoke the Bishop of Constance in 1522. It caused the great reformer Ulrich Zwingli to compose the first of his Reformation writings, a pamphlet entitled “Choice and Liberty Respecting Food”. There will be another collegiate event later this year. Traditionally, we had a mid-summer outdoor worship service together. But not every congregation can leave its church alone on a Sunday morning. For this reason, we will try something new this year: a collegiate picnic with games in the evening of Sunday, August 17. At the same time, we want to widen the circle. Traditionally, we had only the Suydam Street Reformed Church, the Reformed Church of Highland Park, Second and First Reformed Church. Now we have extended invitations to the Middlebush Reformed Church, the Reformed Church of Edison and the Six Mile Run Reformed Church. What great potential we have in our

April 2014


Newsletter of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick

Hall Education Fund - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! — by Susanne Clark

Town Clock CDC – MOU’ed up to our ears!

A heartfelt thank you is extended to everyone who contributed to the annual Hall Education Fund Fundraiser. Our March 7th event was enjoyed by all who attended. The food was great, the talk by Brian Hammill was interesting, the wines were delicious, the setting was comfortable, and, most of all, it was for a good cause. We raised over $4,500.00 which will provide much needed scholarships for New Brunswick students pursuing higher education.

–by Susan Kramer-Mills, Executive Director While we are getting even closer to finalizing the grant application with the Housing & Mortgage & Finance Agency (HMFA) for $2.4 million, we still have a long list of forms to fill in. These include MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding), as many of us have now become infinitely acquainted with, besides the stack of forms, reports, etc. The Town Clock CDC finalized an MOU with the Edison Housing Authority for ten vouchers. These vouchers provide the subsidy for the rents. There was a jump of joy coming from HMFA’s offices about this, namely, there are very few such vouchers available at the moment. Then there was the MOU between the Town Clock CDC and Women Aware, Inc., which delineates the work between the two organizations after construction. Women Aware, Inc. will be providing the Town Clock CDC with counseling services for the residents. Finally, we have been working on the MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) between HMFA and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which had to be negotiated. This was a huge undertaking and is still has reports to be negotiated. In particular, these reports describe the areas where construction material will be laid out and what areas will be off limits. All in all, it is becoming clear that we are getting close to construction. The Town Clock CDC has started to plan for a Groundbreaking Event. If all works out with HMFA’s funding, then that date will probably take place on May 19th. Hurray!! Of course, everyone will be invited!

April 2014

If you weren’t able to join us this year, make plans to join us for our Hall Fest in October or the Winetasting and Silent Auction in March, 2015. Of course, donations are welcome and appreciated any time of the year!


Newsletter of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick

Music Notes —by Benjamin T. Berman, April, 2014 We had a fun recital in the Randolph Room on March 23, in which I performed with my colleague Paul Undreiner, the music director of Ramsey Presbyterian Church. We did three song cycles – Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad, which I have sung a few times before, Schumann’s Dichterliebe, and Paul’s own, newly composed cycle, Five Bartow Songs. We were graced with the presence of Charles Bartow, the poet who provided texts for Paul’s songs. He sat in the front row with his wife, Paula.

concert. Think about our general offerings to the community – the Lunchtime Recital Series, the Rainbow Children’s Choir, our special ties to early music, and our diverse worship music. These are the elements that contribute to our good reputation. We are well-positioned in New Brunswick to have a musical mission. I wish to thank everyone who came to spend a Sunday afternoon with me and Paul. There were a good 40-50 people in the audience. We enjoyed your company, and we guarantee that there will be many such future recitals and concerts with which we can share music and art together.

There are some things that one wishes to have said during a concert that is relevant to the music, but was not able due to time constraints. Having briefly introduced each piece, I doubt I was able to convey how significant these works of art were before singing them. For instance, I would have liked to explain how A Shropshire Lad was born out of a time in England when overt homosexuality was heavily forbidden, the poems being published a year after Oscar Wilde’s famous trial for his openly gay lifestyle. There is so much under the surface in these songs that can be interpreted in a homoerotic light – certainly composers realized them as such in their later compositions. Also I would have loved for Charles himself to discuss some of the themes in his own poetry – including the inevitable decline in health that comes with approaching old age (with his reference to “ocular cataracts” in one very poignant song). These issues are so important to us in our church. I wonder if there were many in the audience on Sunday who picked up on some of these subtleties. At the very least, I am pleased to say that our church has a reputation for displaying excellent musical performances. I am not just saying that to pat my own back. Think on the high artistic quality of Paul Undreiner’s compositions, and in how many different ways they have come to us – in worship services, at lunchtime recitals, and at this most recent mid-afternoon April 2014


Newsletter of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick

Rainbow Children’s Choir & CICLOVIA – by Benjamin T. Berman The Rainbow Children’s Choir will give their annual Earth Day concert at New Brunswick’s Ciclovia. Please mark your calendars for May 4, to come outside and help support this group of young singers. We will be singing songs to celebrate Earth and our call as faithful people to be good stewards of what God has given us. While we are still in negotiations with the city about how this is going happen, exactly where, and when, we can be rather sure that we will find some niche at Ciclovia. Please stay tuned for more information. If that fails, we will nevertheless sing that day, either at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple or First Reformed Church. Rehearsals will begin on Sunday, April 13 at First Reformed Church, and on Tuesday, April 15 at Livingston Elementary School. For more information, or to find out if your kids can get involved, please contact me at (443) 6212793. First Reformed Church 9 Bayard Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 phone: 732-545-1005; fax: 732-545-1139 email: web site:

First Reformed Church in New Brunswick April 2014  
First Reformed Church in New Brunswick April 2014